The World in a Jewelry Box

Some individuals convey residence magnets, key chains and maps from their travels; I convey residence equipment. Floral scarves, beaded headbands, colourful hats, kitschy coin purses. But greater than anything, I convey residence jewellery.

Not loopy, need-a-bodyguard, can’t-check-my-luggage jewellery. Fun jewellery. Some of my frill is further, however most of it isn’t; a few of it’s dear, most of it isn’t — a pair of almond-shaped silver studs from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul that price a few lira; a pair of triangular gold dangling earrings purchased from a store in the middle of Athens on the day I discovered I used to be accepted to graduate college; a pair of blue circular earrings from the Malcolm Shabazz market in Harlem some 20 blocks away from my residence (native journey, am I proper?).

Some has been purchased for me by pals on their very own journeys. Over the years, my pal Ari has given me earrings from Uganda, Ethiopia and South Africa, in addition to a necklace from Kenya and a bracelet from Paris. Oluseyi gave me a necklace fabricated from the black, white, purple and inexperienced paper beads which might be common in French Guiana. Selina gave me glowing teal earrings from Istanbul once I graduated from school. And it was a lengthy purple picket necklace, given to me the summer season earlier than my senior 12 months of highschool by my pal Imani after her journey to Spain, that first had me daydreaming about once I too would go to the Mediterranean.

If this all appears like a lot, you must perceive that every thing about my sense of fashion is maximalist: I like vivid colours, feathers, fringe, animal print — usually not all collectively, however typically … all collectively. Let’s simply say that I want to disregard Coco Chanel’s recommendation to take one accent off earlier than leaving the home.

But my proclivity for holding onto ornaments doesn’t precisely conform to an age the place a Marie Kondo-endorsed sense of minimalism is in vogue. There’s additionally the sensible matter that my residence is a 400-square foot studio, and one lady’s cheerful assortment of objects is one other’s sanity-stretching muddle. Sometimes I’m each of these ladies.

In March, as quarantine started, like many others, I set some private targets. I promised myself that I might declutter my closet. I might use this further time at residence to tidy up and redecorate, to take care of my vegetation and to lastly arrange my jewellery. I might settle for that I cannot, in truth, flip the remaining earring of a misplaced pair into a necklace or a ring. I might let go of the gadgets that I’ve outgrown and haven’t worn in years, together with the earrings which were given to me that I may by no means work up the braveness to re-gift out of concern that the one who gave them to me would sooner or later ask if I nonetheless owned them.

As I confronted my assortment, I noticed that my reluctance to do away with jewellery through the years has been much less to do with private laziness or a maximalist model ethos, and extra to do with what these souvenirs give me. Stuck at residence, going via my jewellery has been an escape to previous adventures and a reminder of pals who are actually distant. Each time I put on sure gadgets, I’m transported to a sure metropolis and second in my life.

The chunky, oversize blue, turquoise and aquamarine beaded necklace that my pal Paola picked out for me from her mother’s store in Abruzzo, transports me to the ultimate weeks of our senior 12 months of faculty, a time of trepidation and pleasure. Days after Paola gave me that necklace we submitted our theses, and shortly after our dad and mom arrived in Rome. When I put on it, I’m proper again in these heady days of feeling just like the world was opening up in entrance of us.

The sequined navy, silver and black band that doubles as a headband and necklace jogs my memory of romping via Paris in the winter at 21. The neon rainbow fringe earrings from Marbella remind me of my greatest pal’s marriage ceremony there a few years in the past. A silver floral pendant was a reward from my main college dorm mates, given to me days earlier than I left Zimbabwe for the United States. Friends who just lately visited Lisbon gave me a pair of winged gold earrings created by a designer whose work I stumbled upon years in the past. Those earrings remind me of the buddies who gave them to me, however in addition they remind me of the day I spent exploring Lisbon, and the way I tripped and fell on the entrance step of a boutique. I acquired up, walked in and got here out with new earrings and a necklace.

One of the explanations we journey is to attach with different individuals. In years of buying jewellery world wide I’ve at all times come away with extra than simply a new bauble: I’ve realized concerning the historical past of a city whereas having a bracelet made; concerning the customs of a nation whereas making an attempt on rings. I’ve met fascinating artists and enterprise homeowners, individuals who shared their tales — and their favourite native haunts, the type that you simply’d by no means discover in a guidebook — with me. I’ve additionally made lasting friendships.

Years after I left Italy, I met a colleague who had a silver ring impressed by the Roman aqueducts that for 500 years introduced water into town’s middle. She’d studied in Italy about a decade earlier than I did and upon visiting Rome along with her youngsters years later, she purchased the ring. When I returned to Rome, I went to the identical retailer and acquired the identical ring in gold. And so the ring has come to encapsulate one thing barely totally different: that Rome, stoic and unchanging, has imprinted its results on new generations of holiday makers and inhabitants, uniting us all in shared reverence.

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